Giveaway: Sweet by Emmy Laybourne

I've got something special for you readers today. Macmillan and Fierce Reads have generously offered me a copy of Emmy Laybourne's thriller Sweet to pass on to one lucky reader of Mary Had a Little Book Blog! Sweet has a little bit of everything: kissing, thrills & chills, murder, kissing, feels, explosions, adventure, mystery, more kissing, more murder, and some savvy social commentary. It packs quite the punch in only 300 pages! Scroll down to learn more about this creepy yet fun story that will get your summer off to a bang, and enter to win a copy!

Release Date: June 7, 2016
Publisher: Square Fish
Genre: young adult thriller plus romance
Status: standalone (plus a prequel novella)

 They'd kill to get thin.
The luxurious celebrity cruise launching the trendy new diet sweetener Solu should be the vacation of a lifetime. But Laurel is starting to regret accepting her friend Viv's invitation. She's already completely embarrassed herself in front of celebrity host Tom Forelli-the hottest guy ever!-and she's too sick to even try the sweetener. And that's before Viv and all the other passengers start acting really strange.
Tom knows that he should be grateful for this job and the chance to shed his former-child-star image. His publicists have even set up a 'romance' with a sexy reality star. But as things on the ship start to get wild, he finds himself drawn to a different girl. And when the hosting gig turns into an expose on the shocking side effects of Solu, it's Laurel that he's determined to save.
Emmy Laybourne, author of the Monument 14 trilogy, takes readers on a dream vacation in Sweet that goes first comically, then tragically, then horrifyingly, wrong!

Available from:
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About the Author:
Emmy Laybourne is a novelist, public speaker, screenwriter and former character actress. She is the author of the Monument 14 trilogy and the novel Sweet. Before her life as a novelist, Emmy performed original comedy on Comedy Central, MTV and VH1; and acted in the movies Superstar, The In-Laws, and Nancy Drew, among others. Emmy lives outside New York City with her husband, two kids and a flock of 6 nifty chickens.

Author Links:

paperback copy of Sweet by Emmy Laybourne
Open to residents of US & Canada, ages 13+

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Mary's Minute: Brain Candy vs Book Crack

During the month of April, I didn't get a lot of reading done because I was so busy working on the YA festival my library hosts. After the festival, my brain felt like this

and I didn't feel like reading anything too serious. I needed brain candy, and I binge-listened the entire Beautiful series by Christina Lauren (except Beautiful Bastard because meh) and also their Wild Seasons series. We're allowed to listen to audiobooks at work, as long as we use headphones, so naturally, my phone conspired against me, and on three separate occasions started playing the audiobooks while my headphones weren't in, each time during a slightly sexy but not super racy scene. My coworkers all made fun of me, and I defended myself saying I needed some brain candy after working so hard.

My boss understood this concept, but one coworker, a tech guy who doesn't understand reading for pleasure, wouldn't let it go. "BRAIN CANDY?" he'd ask incredulously with a touch of derision. "What is BRAIN CANDY??"

This is brain candy, but not what I'm talking about.

Brain candy is a term I use to refer to books (can also be applied to other forms of entertainment ie movies, tv, music, etc) that are fun, fluffy, and feel-good. They might touch on serious issues, but are *mostly* lighter in content and easy to consume (ie you can read a whole bunch right in a row). They're delicious and slightly addictive, but if you read too many in a row, you'll be sick of them for a while.

Books that I consider brain candy are, of course, Christina Lauren, Kit Rocha's Beyond series (post-apocalyptic erotica—NOT ya at all!), Simon Pulse's romantic comedies series from the mid 00's, Kasie West, Jennifer Echols, Jennifer E. Smith, usually any book that features sports, not unrelated to the sports: any book in my Kindle that has abs on the cover, etc. There's a lot of romance in my brain candy collection, but that's not everybody's definition.

Now for brain crack. Brain crack books are the ones that are highly addictive, and honestly, not the best for you, whether they're poorly written, full of weird ideas, or you hate the author but can't give up the books (that's the addiction at work).

Often there's some amount of self-loathing that occurs when you inevitably read a crack book or binge a series. One series I consider brain crack (and I know lots of readers agree with me on this one) is The Selection series. Kiera Cass is lovely, but you can't deny those books aren't the best things around. I honestly don't care. I own every single one and have multiple copies of a couple of them. Why? Because they're fun to read, and I can't say no.

Abbi Glines's books are book crack to me. I actually hate several of them, and I think they're full of damaging concepts, cardboard cutout characters, and weak repeat plots. But again. I own most of them. I read them with as much gusto as I have when I wash my hair (wash rinse repeat those plots!), but I still read them. I own most in Kindle format, but when Abbi came to Dallas a couple years ago, yeah, I bought some of the titles in paperback because I am weak.

I'm going to touch on this one in a future Mary's Minute post, but I know some people consider Cassie Clare to be book crack. For some it may be vampire books or those free books on Amazon or whatever. We've all got those books that have their hooks in us, and we just can't give them up, no matter how much we'd like to.

I'm not trying to diss any author or book in this post. I've just had this conversation with a lot of friends. We discuss candy books and crack books, and I wondered if other readers experienced this as well. Let me know your thoughts and any picks you have for brain candy or book crack in the comments!

Blog Tour: Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

Rating: 5 stars
Pub Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre: young adult contemporary romance, realistic fiction
Format/Source: ARC, from the author
Status: standalone

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Irish Banana Tours

Maguire is bad luck.

No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

From author Paula Stokes comes a funny and poignant novel about accepting the past, embracing the future, and learning to make your own luck.

Blog Tour: The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

Rating: 4 stars
Pub Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Genre: young adult fantasy
Format/Source: ARC, from the publisher
Status: STANDALONE (!!!)

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review as part of the blog tour, which was organized & hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. The full tour schedule can be found HERE. Please go give my fellow tour hosts some love!

Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you're only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of Death and Destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father's kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran's queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar's wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire...

But Akaran has its own secrets -- thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most. . .including herself.

A lush and vivid story that is steeped in Indian folklore and mythology. The Star-Touched Queen is a novel that no reader will soon forget.